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Jeff Ansell, President of Ansell and Associates


Dealers could be one sentence or one slip up away from doing serious damage to their brands and their dealership’s reputation, according to crisis communications expert and media trainer Jeff Ansell, President of Ansell and Associates.

Ansell was the evening keynote at the fourth annual and sold-out CADA Summit, and during his session helped coach dealers on the world of the media, scandal, crisis and public relations.

“When the headline is you, the truth is not good enough,” says Ansell. “Every brand in this room this evening is potentially one sentence away from disaster.” Ansell has worked with some of the world’s top brands as a media and crisis communications advisor.

Sometimes he’s called in for training to help prep companies in the event of a crisis. Sometimes, he’s called in when companies are already embroiled in a high-profile, no-win situation. “Your brand is clearly one of your most valuable assets,” says Ansell.

He says it’s amazing to see what people will say in media interviews when they feel besieged by reporters. He played several video examples of media interviews with company officials that yielded a collective groan from the crowd: Wow… did they really just say that?

Ansell took dealers through many examples of how companies responded well, or poorly to crises. “What do they do when they are caught in the blinding glare of the media spotlight?” says Ansell.

Ansell also painted a picture of the new world of media, and how their “gotcha” style journalism that focuses on conflict over solutions, and black and white versus shades of gray, makes for simple storylines that depict some as villains and others as victims. “Above all, news is conflict. Media do not like solutions. Solutions interfere with conflict,” says Ansell. “The fact that people have short attention spans doesn’t help either.”

And reporters today can be anybody — from bloggers writing in “sweatpants in their basements” to a consumer with a following on social media. “Today, anything and everything qualifies as news,” says Ansell. “All you need to be a reporter is a smartphone and an Internet connection. If your customers have a beef with you, they know how to hit you where it hurts.”

The good news is companies and key leaders can practice their responses during non-crisis times to help them better respond in the eye of the storm. “Companies need to know where they are vulnerable so they can plan for it,” says Ansell. “Every brand has to ask itself is if it’s ready to respond if the worst happens.”

When the brand is you and the news is not good, stick to your values, says Ansell. “When the integrity of your brand is in jeopardy — let your integrity lead the way.”

He says facts will never win over emotion, you need to accept responsibility, admit mistakes and use a crisis to show the public what you are made of. “People don’t care how much you know — until they know how much you care,” says Ansell in his closing remarks.

The attendees at the keynote event were also provided a copy of Ansell’s book, “When the Headline is You.”

Gino Cozza, VP of Sales, TD Auto Finance, introduced Ansell

Gino Cozza, VP of Sales, TD Auto Finance, introduced Ansell


SOLID SUPPORTER
Gino Cozza, VP of Sales, TD Auto Finance, introduced Ansell, and reiterated the bank’s commitment to the event as the exclusive CADA Summit sponsor. “Being part of the annual CADA Summit program lets us help you — Canadian dealers,” says Cozza. “We at TD Auto Finance recognize that we are only successful if you are.”

Cozza also used the occasion to thank Rick Gauthier, the President and CEO of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA), for his vision in bringing the CADA Summit to life. “As you know Rick Gauthier has announced he will retire later this year. I just want to thank Rick for his vision and leadership for bringing us the Summit,” says Cozza. “This has become the premier event in the Canadian auto industry in Canada.”

Cozza thanked Rick Gauthier, the President and CEO of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) for his contributions

Cozza thanked Rick Gauthier, the President and CEO of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) for his contributions

About Todd Phillips

Todd Phillips is the editorial director of Universus Media Group Inc. and the editor of Canadian auto dealer magazine. Todd can be reached at tphillips@universusmedia.com.

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